Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers delivered his annual State Of The City address Friday. In an upbeat, 35-minute speech, Suthers highlighted the city’s strong economy and touted recent rankings in U.S. News and World Report, including one that called Colorado Springs the “most desirable place to live” in the country.
“The fact is, as a result of the unprecedented levels of public and private investment, Colorado Springs has taken its place among the great cities of America,” Suthers said.
Suthers thanked residents for their support of several recent ballot measures aimed at raising money for city infrastructure. He said those measures have helped fund vital improvements to the city’s roads and stormwater system and freed up money to hire 120 police officers and 32 firefighters over the next four years.
He also pointed to strong job numbers in the city, saying the Pikes Peak Region has added 24,000 jobs since 2015, an average of 7,300 positions per year. “And we’re talking about very good jobs,’” he said. “The median salary for posted jobs in our region is currently over $77,000, far above the median salary for the state of Colorado.”
He described the overall state of the city’s economy as “dynamic,” and argued that projects such as the under-construction Olympic Museum promise to bring further energy to the community.
But he also acknowledged that the city continues to face challenges. In particular, he focused on the issues of homelessness and affordable housing. He praised recent steps taken by city council to prohibit camping within 100 feet of city waterways, arguing that council has managed to balance “public sentiment, the law, and compassion in dealing with the problems of chronic homelessness in our community.”
On the issue of affordable housing, Suthers suggested the city “make it a community goal to build, preserve and create opportunities to purchase an average of 1,000 affordable units per year over the next five years.”
In his remarks, Suthers also took a moment to recognize Colorado Springs police officer Cem Duzel, who is currently recovering from a gunshot wound sustained in the line of duty in August. “There are lots of cameras here today,” he said, “so let’s have those cameras document this audience’s expression of appreciation for Officer Duzel and the sacrifice he has made for our city.” Members of the audience stood and held signs with messages of support for Duzel as the media took photos.
The mayor also presented the annual “Spirit of the Springs” lifetime achievement award to local developer, Chuck Murphy.